The US Senate voted on 16 March 2017 to confirm the appointment of former Republican Senator Dan Coats and Lieutenant General HR McMaster as President Donald Trump’s Director of National Intelligence and National Security Adviser respectively. While the senate voted 85 to 12 in favour of Coats’ appointment, McMaster’s approval vote was even more overwhelming with 86 votes in his favour and just 10 against.
Though National security advisers aren’t subject to Senate confirmation, McMaster’s reappointment to the new position had to be considered because he chose to remain as an active military officer rather than retire from the service and generals need the chamber’s approval when they’re promoted or given a different assignment.
The appointment makes Dan Coats the fifth person to hold the post created after the 11 September terror attack. While both the candidates faced opposition from democratic senators, Coats also faced opposition from one Republican, Senator Rand Paul who is one of the Senate’s leading privacy advocates.
McMaster will be succeeding retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, who was forced to resign from the office on 13 February following the emergence of reports of him misleading Vice President Mike Pence about the discussions he had with the Russian ambassador to US about US sanctions on Moscow before the presidential transition took place.
Coats would be replacing James Clapper, who retired as President Barack Obama left office in January 2017. Coats will be overseeing 16 intelligence agencies that have been criticized by Trump for their past assessments. Coats will also hold a key position in the government’s ongoing investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.